“By combining companies, we believe will be able to…enhance the customer experience, increase customer value and put ourselves in an even stronger position to help shape and lead the next generation of shopping,” So said Mike George, QVC’s president and CEO.
But will they?
When brands merge are they diluting the brand message and connection with consumers? With so many mergers and acquisitions recently, you have to wonder what it means for brands and their connection with consumers.
L’Oréal which owns 34 brands has a unique perspective—let the brand be itself and be what consumers want. Jean-Paul Agon, L’Oréal CEO, noted, “Brands have to be authentic, but for [consumers], it means the brand is transparent and there is sincerity in what they express… We have to adapt permanently, or even anticipate permanently, the consumer’s demands…”
The lesson for brand managers going though mergers it that it’s essential to both respect and reassure consumers who have made a financial and time investment in selecting and patronizing “their brand.” When things “change” due to merger, an emotional connection could be at jeopardy if doubt sets in that that their original decision to become a customer is no longer valid.
The Harvard Business Review noted that an emotional connection between a brand and its consumers is a significant differentiator. “On a lifetime value basis, emotionally connected customers are more than twice as valuable as highly satisfied customers.”
Here’s a bit of insight they share that brand managers should take note of:
The advice In our ERDM learnings from 15,000+ hours of VoC research interviews, consumers told us that understanding them and developing relationships is a competitive differentiator for maintaining a strong brand connection:
One of the issues in meeting consumer connection needs according to Adobe Digital Insights (ADI), is that brands think that they are delivering this experience but according to consumers—they are not.
Tamara Gaffney, principal analyst at ADI, explains why value is always the key to connections.
“[Brands] have to demonstrate value to the consumer. Companies are still not built to be able to do that…. At a time when marketers are competing for time and attention…Organizations, themselves, are fragmented, and, on top of that, their technology is fragmented, making it difficult to make progress…We’re in a really high-pressure environment where marketers need to not only protect their loyal base, but also efficiently steal from the competition… The winners are going to be the companies that have the technology and chops to serve relevant, personalized communications to consumers, consistently…”
With so much merging and blending, the question is: will these combined companies thrive or not? However, one thing is for sure; consumers will want proof that any new union deserves their patronage. In an interview, Doug Rose, SVP of programming and marketing for QVC, said, “Amid the rapid transformation of our business, our recipe for cultivating loyalty has not changed: To deliver a shopping experience that fosters enduring relationships, rooted in trust.”
About the Author:
Ernan Roman Direct Marketing’s Customer Experience strategies achieve consistent double-digit increases in response and revenue for their clients, which include IBM, MassMutual, QVC, Microsoft, and Symantec Corp.
As a leader in providing Voice of Customer research-based guidance, ERDM has conducted over 10,000 hours of interviews with their clients’ customers and prospects, to gain an in-depth understanding of their expectations for high-value relationships.
The results achieved by ERDM’s VoC-based strategies earned Ernan Roman induction into the Marketing Hall of Fame.
Visit his blog at: http://ernanroman.blogspot.com/